How to write fiction

How to write fiction plagiarizing Historical moments

grayscale photo of old pictures
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

History?  History is a science of just dates and happenings and boring stuff…it is a snob thing…It is for intellectuals… History repeats itself, it is boring…

Maybe….or not. Do you know what character from a very popular HBO hit is like the historical version of Maria de Medici and her husband, “le French rooster” who ended dead hunting? Did you know that the same character shares some features copied from the most popular version of Lucrecia Borgia[1] about her brother Cesar?

Wikipedia ain’t trustable? Sometimes…it is a start to being and know where our feet are. Historically speaking. Specially without time, connections or Historian friends. And it ain’t the only place. There are…documentaries. Yeah my little friend of a grasshopper comic drawer or scriptwriter, you can do that if reading isn’t for you. I know of someone who would complain with your complaints about not wanting to read but…not everyone likes reading.

Not bad. Or worst. Anyway, not everybody likes video games or the same “first person shooting” type. Or watch the football (soccer if you’re a dude more than a chap). There are baseball fans out there too. So go…and seek.

Have you realized of whom am I talking about? I’ll give you a clue. Her name begins with C. And she cuckolds his husband with her brother…More? Do you start to understand why History (in Spanish it is kinda confusing since an story is the same as history) is good for stories? So be it Bill Clinton’s too.

Asimov wrote Fundation the way he wrote it since he wanted to write a Historical book. Just that he wasn’t a Historian and he didn’t want to waste time looking up a History line that hadn’t been told. Thus, he invented his own with footnotes referrals to an imaginary  Encyclopaedia based in the Roman Empire. (And other civilizations maybe). That’s why you don’t need to be an historian, if you don’t wish to be, to become a historical writer but perhaps you might need to become a little fan of the H.

Julian Fellowes, scriptwriter of Downton Abbey, never wrote a documentary but a beautiful series about technological and ideological changes about 20th century that takes usa round what could have been a frivolous plot about a count trying to marry off his three daughters without any male heir, if it weren’t because such changes get in the way of such feat.

1923, Honshu island twerks to music synched to an scale of 7.9 to 8.2 Richter grades. This movement caused any stuff: a tsunami, fire everywhere, genocide… and takes part of the ending of one of my favourite manga. Yumekui no kenbun by Shin Mashibaends with this particular event that changes the characters´ lives into a living nightmare like the ones Haruko feeds from and the one provoked by the earthquake. Anyone can see how much of an impact the earthquake made in Japanese life but it takes someone who knows about History to make of it a superb story.

And for some who write historical novels and decide to run by the facts…they have to guide readers through dates, happenings and verifiable data. Decisions already made which might seem absurd to us, that weren’t at the moment. Those…those are able to turn Robert of Artois into nice guys.

To know History is part of the research to ambient our…narrative Frankenstein and plagiarize unpunished. No one will complain cause you have stolen the idea of a group of people stabbing the new tyrant on the back…Or will call you mediocre for creating someone Cleopatra like.    

If by chance I haven’t convinced you, I’ll try quoting Homo Deus by Nuval Yoah Harari:

“Science is not just about predicting the future, though. Scholars in all fields often seek to broaden our horizons, thereby opening before us new and unknown futures. This is especially true of history. Though historians occasionally try their hand at prophecy (without notable success), the study of history aims above all to make us aware of possibilities we don’t normally consider. Historians study the past not in order to repeat it, but in order to be liberated from it.

Each and every one of us has been born into a given historical reality, ruled by particular norms and values, and managed by a unique economic and political system. We take this reality for granted, thinking it is natural, inevitable and immutable. We forget that our world was created by an accidental chain of events, and that history shaped not only our technology, politics and society, but also our thoughts, fears and dreams. The cold hand of the past emerges from the grave of our ancestors, grips us by the neck and directs our gaze towards a single future. We have felt that grip from the moment we were born, so we assume that it is a natural and inescapable part of who we are. Therefore we seldom try to shake ourselves free, and envision alternative futures.

Studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past. It enables us to turn our head this way and that, and begin to notice possibilities that our ancestors could not imagine, or didn’t want us to imagine. By observing the accidental chain of events that led us here, we realise how our very thoughts and dreams took shape – and we can begin to think and dream differently. Studying history will not tell us what to choose, but at least it gives us more options.”

And more imaginary worlds.

[1] I say popular versión since it seems that modern discoveries have made of her a less gossiped version without the incest and more real letters to discard people poisoning left and right.

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